Monday 31 March 2008

AFAM: Pear Koshimbir

Hardly one day away from the deadline and I still hadn't made up my mind about what to make for this event. Just happened to wonder in front of GM about this & he immediately suggested the Koshimbir! Now why doesn't he have these brainwaves when I ask him what to make for lunch/dinner? For me cooking is not a task, I enjoy it, but thinking of the menu everyday is somewhat tiresome. But yesterday my problem was solved in an instant! So the credit for this one goes to GM!

Pear, also called Nashpati back in India, is a nutritious juicy fruit full of fiber. They are available in a lot of varieties ranging from the hard or soft pulp to sweet or tangy tasting. I selected the hard ones with a tangy taste for this koshimbir. Since most of the fiber content lies in the skin I did not peel the pear and only chopped it finely.

1 Pear (remove the seeds & chop finely)
Half a tomato (finely chopped)
1 green chili (finely chopped)
finely chopped coriander
1 tsp roasted peanut powder
1-2 tsp curd
1/2 tsp sugar

For the seasoning:
1 tsp oil
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1-2 pinches hing (asafoetida)

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl. The peanut powder gives it a nutty taste and also helps to bind everything together since the pear will let out water once salt & sugar are added.

In a small pan heat the oil for seasoning & add the mustard seeds. Once they start spluttering add the hing & turn off the fire. Add this to the Koshimbir and mix properly.

I served this with Veg Biryani and the combination was awesome. The sweet/tangy koshimbir complimented the spicy Biryani very well.

The details of the Biryani will follow, but for now this Koshimbir is off to Raaga of The Singing Chef for the AFAM Pear event.

Wednesday 26 March 2008

Dahi Wada

I am a total Snacks/Junk food person. In fact this is one of the major things I miss about India. Availability of any type of snacks you want within a few minutes. Wada Pav, Samosa, Bhel, Sev Puri, Pani Puri, Dhabeli, Pav Bhaji, Sandwiches...the list is endless & so is the variety. I still remember this particular sandwichwalla near my office in Worli who carries a mobile phone. Whenever we were hungry or just felt like having some sandwiches, all we needed to do was call him with our preferences & he would be there in 15 minutes with the goodies! I had specific places where I liked all these junk food items. Patel's Pani Puri, Mahaveer's Samosa also Gurukripa, Anna's Dosa, Wada Pav outside the King George School, Dhabeli in Ghatkopar(E) and so on.

*Sigh* Those were the days .....

Now If I have one of those urges to have any of the above, I have to make them at home myself or go looking for it all over London. Nothing tastes as it should even if you manage to find what you want. Then I start thinking about everything I am going to sample the next time I am in India....

So here's one of the numerous delicacies that I crave for :)

The best part about this is that when you plan to make this, you automatically have two things ready. I always start out with Medu wada with coconut chutney & sambhar for a weekend breakfast and then make Dahi wada for an evening snack.

Makes about 10-12 wadas (If you want more, just increase the qty of Urad Dal)
1 cup Urad dal
Crushed Black pepper
2-3 cups Curd
1-2 pinches kala namak (Rock Salt)
1 tsp red chili powder
2 tsps roasted jeera (cumin) powder
2 tsps sugar
Oil for frying


Soak the dal for about 2 hours. Grind it to get a batter similar to that of Medu wada using as little water as possible. Add a little salt & crushed black pepper & mix. Now you can either fry it by making small balls with your hands or by dropping the batter with a tablespoon in the oil. If the batter is quite thick, I would recommend doing it by hand as the wadas will then have a nice round shape. Fry all the wadas and keep aside.

In a Bowl take the curd and whisk it without adding any water. Add the salt, kala namak, chili powder, jeera powder & sugar and mix properly.

Now take the wadas and immerse in warm water for 3-4 minutes & then squeeze out the water. This will soften the wadas and also help to get rid of the excess oil (No, keeping it longer in the water will not take away more oil, rather the wadas will become too soft & might crumble).

Add the wadas to the prepared curd and keep it in the refrigerator.

To serve, scoop out the wadas on to a bowl & add some of the curd. Sprinkle a little kala namak, jeera powder & chili powder. Add some tamarind chutney & coriander/mint chutney.

I didn't have any of those chutneys and we were too hungry to spend time making them so we managed without them but the result was just as delicious.

Tuesday 18 March 2008

Gajar Matar ki Sabzi

What do you do when you don't have any vegetables readily available with you and you are not in the mood to have chole, rajma, moong or other such things? Let me tell you what I do. I make Gajar Matar ki sabzi. For some reasons I always have carrots in my kitchen. Not that I get it & then don't use it and it keeps lying in the refrigerator. On the contrary we use it almost everyday as a salad and also sometimes in my 9 months old daughter's meal in the form of puree. So Carrots are always on the list when I go for my weekly veg/grocery shopping. Also frozen peas are always stocked in the freezer. So many times this is on the menu on a Friday evening when I am out of all the veggies and nothing special is planned for dinner.

Serves 2

2 carrots washed, peeled & cut into small pieces
One large bowl peas
1 tsp jeera (cumin seeds)
1 pinch of hing (asafoetida)
1/2 tsp haldi (turmeric powder)
1 medium sized tomato, chopped
1 tsp chili powder
2 tsp dhaniya jeera powder (coriander & cumin powder)
1/2 tsp garam masala powder
Chopped Coriander leaves


Heat oil in a pan and add the jeera. When it changes colour put hing & haldi. Add the carrot & saute for a few min. Add the peas and cook on medium heat for about 3-5 min.

(The colours were looking so vibrant that I could not resist taking this snap. I only wish we could get those red carrots here that we get in India)

Add the chopped tomatoes & mix. Now add the salt, chili powder, dhaniya jeera powder & Garam Masala powder & mix properly. Cook for 2-3 min.

Add enough water to immerse the carrot & peas. Cover & cook till the carrots are tender. Add the coriander leaves & mix.

Now simmer & cook without the cover till the water evaporates. Garnish with some more coriander leaves.

Monday 17 March 2008

Paneer Makhani

This is one of our favourite Paneer dishes. For one, both of us, me & my hubby GM, like paneer a lot and love anything with paneer in it. The other reason is that it is really very easy to make with minimum preparation required. I picked up this recipe from Khana Khazana, which I used to watch very regularly back in India every Sunday, much to my brother's annoyance!

'Makhani' means buttery and here the paneer is cooked in a tomato gravy with lots of butter. The cream added at the end gives it a rich taste.

Serves 2
120 gm paneer cut into cubes
5 medium sized ripe tomatoes
2 tblspn Butter
2 tsps red Chili powder
1" piece of ginger
1 tsp Garlic paste
1 tsp Ginger paste
1 tsp honey
3-4 pinches kasuri methi
1 tsp Garam Masala
About 2-3 tblsp cream


Cut the tomatoes into halves & pressure cook along with 1 tsp chili powder, ginger & a little salt.

Allow it to Cool & puree in a blender. Pass this through a sieve to get rid of the tomato seeds.

Heat butter in a pan. Fry the Garlic & ginger paste in it. Then add the above tomato puree. Cook this for about 15 min on medium heat, stirring in between.

Now add the remaining 1 tsp chili powder, salt, Garam masala and honey.

Lightly roast the kasuri methi on a tawa. This has to be done very quickly since the kasuri methi starts burning otherwise. Remove from the tawa & crush with your palms. Sprinkle this on to the gravy and simmer.

Add the paneer cubes and mix. Cover and cook for 5 min.

Stir in the cream and cook for another minute.

We usually have this with Naan or chapatis but it tastes quite nice with rice as well.

The quantity of gravy can be adjusted by increasing or decreasing the No of tomatoes and adjusting the seasoning accordingly.

Tuesday 11 March 2008

Starting Out.....

A Blog about food? Who would want to read that.....was my first impression about food blogs. I mean there are so many websites giving out any recipe you want & there are so many TV programmes doing the same since ages. But all this changed once I got hooked onto the food blogging world thanks to my best friend who is already a part of it.

There surely is a difference between reading out a bland recipe simply 'typed out' by some speciality 'chef' and getting it from someone like you who has actually cooked it & is sharing the experience with you.

So here I am, about to share my cooking experiences & adventures...:) I will come up with the first one very soon...